‘Game of Thrones’ finale review: Season 6 concludes with ‘The Winds of Winter’

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Game of Thrones has wrapped up for another year and it’s fair to say these last ten episodes have progressed the storyline much further than we could have hoped for.

Season 6 reached its conclusion in ‘The Winds of Winter’ – incidentally the title of George R. R. Martin’s upcoming sixth novel – alliances were put to the test, shattering revelations unveiled and old vengeances finally delivered.

As Sansa so aptly put it: ‘winter is here.’

Bells rang in King’s Landing for Cersei and Loras’ trial in the Sept. Grand Maester Pycelle heard a whisper and was led away by the child unaware of what was soon to come. At Loras’ trial, the Tyrell heir confessed to his sins and pledged his life to the seven. ‘I will abandon the Tyrell name and all that goes with it,’ Loras told the High Sparrow after which he was branded by Lancel Lannister and the other Sparrows. At the Red Keep, The Mountain barred Tommen from leaving his chambers to attend the trial whilst Cersei waited for her plan to be carried out.

The High Sparrow sent Lancel to retrieve Cersei but he was lured away by a strange child below the Sept. At the same time Pycelle was led into a room where Qyburn lay in wait for him. ‘The old must be put to rest,’ Qyburn informed Pycelle apologetically before the old Maester was surrounded by children and stabbed to death. Shortly afterwards Lancel was stabbed by the child he followed and, wounded, he crawled his way to a cache of wildfire!

Realising the destruction this would unleash, Lancel began to drag himself as fast as he could to the burning candles before they could ignite the wildfire. Meanwhile, Margaery knew something was wrong and tried her utmost to evacuate everyone but her attempts were to no avail as the wildfire ignited below them and totally destroyed the Sept, killing everyone inside.

Game of Thrones 6 10 The Winds of Winter

Cersei, believing her victory assured, tortured Septa Unella who had humiliated her during her spell as the High Sparrow’s prisoner.

‘Even confessing feels good under the right circumstances,’ said Cersei mocking the Septa’s faith. That wasn’t enough for Cersei who had one last piece of revenge to dish out before she left. A defiant Unella declared she was ready to die but it wasn’t Cersei’s wish for her to die today as she left the Septa alone with the Mountain.

In Tommen’s chambers, the young King watched the smoke rising from the Sept with numb shock as the reality dawned upon him. Unable to bear the pain, Tommen strode to the window and jumped to his death and thus the last of Cersei’s children perished as had been promised to her.

In the Twins, Walder Frey celebrated the united Frey and Lannister victory at Riverrun and the capture of the castle that had long eluded him. He delivered a suitably arrogant speech that summed him up as a man without shame or honour. Amongst the men, Jaime set Bronn up with a couple of girls before reminding Walder of the Frey’s inability to keep control of Riverrun. Without the Lannister’s the Frey’s would have no victory. Later, Walder was horrified when a ‘servant’ served him a pie cooked with the meat of his own sons.

Worse was to come as the ‘servant’ revealed herself: ‘my name is Arya Stark I want you to know that. The last thing you’re ever going to see is a Stark smiling down at you as you die.’ Before Walder could do anything, Arya slit his throat and watched the vile old man bleed to his death – vengeance for the murder of her mother and brother had finally been delivered.

Game of Thrones 6 10 The Winds of Winter

Sam and Gilly arrived in Oldtown where Sam was to begin his training to become a Maester. After reading Sam’s letter from Jon, the receptionist told Sam the Arch Maester would speak with him about the ‘irregularities’ that had occurred. After this pronouncement Sam was shown to the great library but Gilly and her baby were not permitted to follow. Inside the library Sam was in total awe – he had never seen such a vast collection of books before.

At Winterfell, Davos confronted Melisandre and forced her to confess what had happened to Shireen. ‘If he commands you to burn children alive, your Lord is evil,’ an emotional Davos cried, his grief shining through because he had loved Shireen as his own. Despite Davos’ request to execute Melisandre, the Red Woman warned Jon of the Night King and the war that would soon be upon the North. Yet Jon knew he could not permit her to stay in Winterfell and commanded Melisandre to ride South on pain of death should she ever return.

Outside, Sansa approached Jon as he watched Melisandre leave the castle. Upon learning that Jon intended her to take Ned and Catelyn’s bedroom, Sansa was adamant he should have it. In a touching moment Jon reminded her he was not a Stark to which Sansa replied: ‘you are to me.’ Jon knew it was Sansa who won the battle for them with the Knights of the Vale and she apologised for not informing him. When asked if she trusted Littlefinger, Sansa denied it and Jon told her they had to trust each other in defiance of their enemies.

Under the weirwood tree, Sansa met with Littlefinger and reminisced about what a stupid girl she had been. Littlefinger reminded her she was just a child then. As they talked, Littlefinger revealed his dream to her – that he saw himself sitting the Iron Throne with Sansa by his side. After this confession, Littlefinger made it clear that Sansa is the future of House Stark, not Jon, Ned’s bastard born in the South.

In Winterfell’s Great Hall, Lady Mormont rallied the protesting Stark bannermen and shamed several Lords for their refusal to answer House Stark’s calls to battle. After declaring Jon her king, the Lords rushed to swear their support to Jon and the Starks, hailing him the new King in the North.

Game of Thrones 6 10 The Winds of Winter

Beyond the Wall, Benjen revealed to Bran and Meera he could go no further and must now leave them but will do what he can for as long as he can as he still fights for the living. After Benjen’s departure, Bran touched the carving on the tree and saw his father reunited with Lyanna before her death. Bran watched, silent, as Lyanna whispered in Ned’s ear and instructed him to promise to keep her child safe. With the new born in Ned’s arms, Jon’s identity was now clear: the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen. That’s bound to put a spanner in the works!

Olenna Tyrell met with the Ellaria and her Sand Snakes in Dorne who believe they need each other’s help. ‘Don’t presume to tell me what I need,’ the Queen of Thorns reminded them of her sharp tongue despite mourning for the future that Cersei had taken from her. As Ellaria said they were after vengeance and justice, Varys revealed himself and finished the declaration: ‘fire and blood.’ Danaerys’ alliances had grown again.

A dismayed Daario learned Danaerys intended for him to stay behind in Meereen and be the city’s caretaker in the Queen’s absence. ‘I don’t want a crown, I want you,’ Daario said as he openly admitted his love for her. Unswayed, Danaerys said Slaver’s Bay had now been renamed the Bay of Dragons. Daario mused the Lords of Westeros had no idea what was coming for them.

After this Danaerys spoke to Tyrion who failed to console her. Before Danaerys, Tyrion had believed in nothing and yet he believes in her: ‘I’d swear you my sword but I don’t actually own a sword,’ said Tyrion with some of his characteristic wit. Knowing she needed his counsel, Danaerys showed Tyrion a pin she had made for him and officially appointed him the Hand of the Queen.

In King’s Landing, Jaime arrived in time to watch Cersei, his sister, sit on the Iron Throne as the new Queen but he does not smile at this development. As Danaerys’ fleet, including Theon and Yara, began to sail towards Westeros, her dragons soared in the sky above the ships. Danaerys was coming home.

Game of Thrones 6 10 The Winds of Winter

An epic finale to Season 6 saw a significant shift in the story and a real sense that the end is now closer than ever. With its suitably dramatic accompanying soundtrack, ‘The Winds of Winter’ ensured the season ended on a thrilling high note and I, for one, cannot wait to be back in this world next year.


Aired at 9pm on Monday 27 June 2016 on Sky Atlantic.

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